Wanted: First Puppy for Obama girls
One of President-elect Barack Obama's first appointments is going to be a White House staffer who may pee on his Oval Office rug and chew his shoes. From the stage at Chicago's Grant Park on Tuesday night he kept his promise to his little girls and delivered the news that "You have earned the puppy that is coming with us." While thrilled for Malia and Sasha, my first thought was, a puppy? Are you crazy? He'll be too busy breaking in Congress to potty train a pup. And PETA has already sent an official letter begging the Obamas to stick to a pound puppy or rescue dog.
The Obamas have talked often of Malia's asthma, so that automatically means they'll be looking at this list of dogs recommended for allergy sufferers because they don't shed. I had read on an asthma support site that they were looking at a soft coated Wheaten terrier, shown here at left, which I have to agree is soooo cute. But Malia, 10, also told the media of her love of the "goldendoodle" one of those designer dogs meant to weed out the worst and produce the best of both a golden retriever and the smart, non-shedding poodle.
Be warned, Malia. These mixes are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. I have met Labradoodles -- although too cute for words -- with the worst of both breeds: a hyper, shedding, barky dog that has to be walked several times a day.
When picking the pup, the first order of business for any family, even the First Family, is to make sure the dog matches your lifestyle. Check these 5 questions to ask before you bring the pooch home to sort out issues of exercise, temperament and neediness. And Marilyn Wolf, a pet trainer and behavior consultant in New Port Richey, suggests that the Obamas "need to consider the characteristics they want in an adult dog. Puppies are adorable but they grow into dogs."
Though most presidents have had purebred dogs in the White House, according to the Presidential Pet Museum, one of the most popular was Lyndon B. Johnson's mongrel Yuki, who was picked up at a gas station by his daughter. It was the president's favorite among his pack of dogs and you can see he even entertained heads of state by singing duets with LBJ, at right.
The American Kennel Club took a poll this summer of what breed the family should adopt. The winner, by a wet nose, was the pure-bred poodle, just inching out the fuzzy Wheaten. Hang in there, guy, the polls aren't in yet. Two very important young voters have to get their say first.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne